Small Churches Should Embrace Cheap Technology

May 8, 2008 by

Last week’s poll/quiz revealed the encouraging stat that 62% of churches have a web site, up from 57% in 2005 and 34% in 2000. The results come from a recent Barna survey (nicely summarized with pretty graphics by Kent Shaffer).

One of the interesting, though hardly surprising, things about the survey is that no matter the technology–web sites, projection systems, e-mail newsletters, podcasting–large churches are adapting these new technologies much faster than small churches.

This isn’t surprising because large churches have both the need to justify and the money to pay for technology. It’s hard to connect 1,000 people, so an e-mail newsletter is a must. And it’s hard to see the pastor when you’re sitting in the back of a 1,000-seat auditorium, so a projection system is a must. And with larger churches come larger budgets.

While the need and the cash might not be there for small churches, I think there are still some inexpensive benefits they can gain from technology. Every church needs to connect their members and keep everyone in touch, and cheap to free technologies like e-mail newsletters, web sites, blogs and social networking sites can do just that. These same technologies can make it easier to reach out to your community as well. You might not be able to afford a newspaper ad for your church garage sale, but a Craigslist post is free.

There are all sorts of free opportunities out there and I’ve gone off on web 2.0 and the church before. There are so many ways your small church can take advantage of technology and get more bang out of your budget.

Bottom line: If you’re a small church, don’t let money keep you away from technology.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

8 Responses to “Small Churches Should Embrace Cheap Technology”

  • David
    May 8, 2008

    Some good points there.
    When a small church has a single person on payroll (the pastor) time for these things like blogging can be short, and harder to justify. With volunteers preferring to concentrate on worship/children’s work, the pastor can be left with a significant amount of administration.

     | Permalink
  • The Bing
    May 8, 2008

    Having lived, worked, written about and lectured on smaller churches most of life I don’t believe the real issue is money or resources. The issue is vision. Let’s be honest though, not all communities need websites. I once ministered in a rural KY community. The population of the entire county was 5000. Technology was just not part of life.
    I now live in a town of 7000 with three international corporations. The community if full of upper middle class executives, yet only two churches have websites. Why? Technology is a way of life for the people of our community. The other churches are missing out. Not because of money, not because of resources but because they don’t understand how to communicate with people that are outside their building. Most of the ministers are aging and just don’t get technology. They are stuck in a time vacuum with no vision for the future. While we are only a church of 230-250 we have a decent website with no budget. Just a vision for what we can become. We are currently reworking the website for the fall to include content regularly seen on larger church website. In the next several months we will begin to include online devotions, online sermons, online Bible studies, blogs and the like. Yeah normal stuff, but what is cool is that from our church of 230 at least 60 folks will be working to make it happen. That comes from vision not money.

     | Permalink
  • Christian Web Trends
    May 8, 2008

    I more or less agree with The Bing.
    I know this is a bit of an over-generalization, but there are basically 2 kinds of small churches.
    1) There are old, mainline churches that are plateaued or declining. They’re primarily made up of older people, who are less tech savy. And they are not all that interested in reaching their communities.
    2) There are new church plants that are growing and obviously trying to reach their communities. They tend to be made up of younger, more tech-savy people.
    Churches in the first category probably not only think they don’t have enough money for a website, eNewsleter, etc. They probably don’t have the vision for them and wouldn’t know how to use them effectively if someone developed them for free.
    Churches in the second category know how critical a website and eNewsletter they are to succeeding that they would probabably pay the small amount of money to get online before they would pay their pastor.
    – Paul

     | Permalink
  • Alex Fear
    May 8, 2008

    And the key element to these ‘free’ technologies?
    Most of them are Open Source.
    For all the churches talk of community and sharing you’d think this would be the logical choice for technology needs, but somehow consumer culture is still a large part of the organisation of the church

     | Permalink
  • Frank Chiapperino
    May 9, 2008

    I completely agree. Especially when it comes to utilizing many of the social networking opportunities that web 2.0 provides. Things like blogs, facebook, twitter, and such are all free and can help connect people in small groups, bible studies and small churches. I have implimented and encouraged many of these things in our church and small group ministry and seen people enjoy the new found connections and the ease at which the tech was used.

     | Permalink
  • Betsy
    June 9, 2008

    I agree that not all churches have a need to communicate with technology, but any small church with a children’s ministry should create something to communicate with kids in their ministry. Kids are adopting technology at such a young age, and the church needs to be in that communication loop. I’ve been trying to encourage small churches to utilize blog sites to build a ministry site and even created a step-by-step “how-to” to get them started. Check it out at Great post!

     | Permalink
  • Philip Jordan
    July 2, 2008

    There are so many free resources for small churches these days to take advantage of. If a Facebook group doesn’t look professional enough or offer enough customization or branding tools, then a Livekite group would more than suffice. Livekite has a uncluttered and visual interface and easily let’s pastors blog, keep an events calender, post photos, vidoes, podcasts, etc– and most importantly stay connected with their members.

     | Permalink
  • Nickerr
    September 2, 2014

    I live in a small town of ~7,000 on the Canadian West Coast. Although I would consider the town’s population pretty wired, small towns have an underlaying current of face-to-face that doesn’t exist in the cities and much larger towns. Why do you think young people can’t wait to leave small town to “disappear” in the big city. Implementing technology in our church is a real challenge and “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” comes into play a lot.

    In the end, my rule of thumb that I will base all my decisions on is:
    “In the end, technology is just a tool to connect people.”

     | Permalink